Earlier this year when I went to Brussels one of my missions was to find two artefacts that had inspired a couple of memorable items in Tintin lore. One was a carved wooden figure that became the Arumbyan Fetish in The Broken Ear...
...the other was a Peruvian mummy that found fame as Rascar Capac in The Seven Crystal Balls.
Both are located in the same room of the Cinquantenaire Museum in Brussels, an impressive museum that houses a bit of everything from everywhere, and every period of history. There were several other objects in the Museum that inspired items in the Tintin adventures - it was clear that Hergé spent a lot of time there with his sketchpad.
According to the book Hergé and His Creation by Harry Thompson (with a 'p') at a 1979 exhibition of real artefacts from the Tintin books the idol was replaced with a fake for fear someone would try and steal it, recreating events in The Broken Ear. Sure enough someone stole the fake holding it to ransom for an appearance by Hergé at the scene of the crime. Though Hergé turned up at the time stated the thief was a no-show, and the whereabouts of the fake idol remain a mystery.
The Cinquantenaire Museum shouldn't remain a mystery to fans though, and is well worth venturing outside the tourist hotspots of central Brussels for.
Today's the 14th of the 3rd, or the 03/14, or more excitingly Pi Day - if you prefer your dates Americanised and your pi rounded to 2 decimal places. To celebrate I whipped up a cake in Inkscape, complete with 3.14 candles, help yourself to a slice!
Mathy Pi Day!
(Or how I learned to stop being lazy and tidy up my music collection in Windows)
I’ve owned a smartphone since 2010 but it was only this year that I bought one with the microSD capacity to house my entire music collection. It wasn’t until I transferred my collection onto the removable media of my Lumia 630 that I realised how messy it, or at least the metadata, was.
The metadata embedded in my music files was something I was vaguely aware and never really took much notice of. I normally select music to listen to through Windows Explorer, rather than a media player that organises things based on the info in the files’ hidden fields.
It soon became apparent that I needed to do something if I wanted to easily search my song library, and a little while after that there was going to be no easy way to do it. The prospect of going through 12,000ish music files and making sure each one was accurately named, metadata’d and album arted was daunting.
Much keyboard stroking and right-clicking later and my music collection is now in an easily searchable state, enhancing discovery of the albums I don’t listen to so much and making my mobile listening experience a more rewarding one.
The cherry on top was adding missing album art through the Windows Media Player library window. It was at this point I realised that I’d never bothered with the library function of Media Player because my messy metadata had always made my music collection look so unappealing.
From now on every time I rip or download an album I won’t be leaving the metadata unchecked. Five minutes renaming a few tracks is a lot more appealing than days spent renaming an entire collection. No longer will my tracks or album titles be appended by unnecessary info [super deluxe edition 2008 + bonus tracks & digital booklet.pdf] or my bonus and hidden tracks remain unnamed and mysterious.
A few tips:
>: There’s a useful piece of software called Picard that makes it easy to rename metadata fields en-masse though this can be done in the explorer window of the album folder as well, by highlighting all the music files in an album, right-clicking and selecting properties then details.
>: Picard can also automatically search and fill-in information, but I didn’t find this function to be particularly helpful (to be fair I didn't spend long persevering with it). For example on compilation albums with various artists it inserted different album art for each song.
>: After a lot of searching for a programme or app that could help me it turns out it’s dead easy to add album art in Windows Media Player. Just go to the music section of the Media Play library, find the art you want (online or on your PC) then simply copy and paste it into the blank album image.
>: As much as I'm a Windows Phone fan the native music app is frustratingly rubbish, and like the indelible Internet Explorer you can't uninstall it. I've been using Mix Radio for a few months now and not a hair has been torn from my head.
As someone who likes a good lurk around an atmospheric graveyard (and if my camera is with me all the better) I leapt at the recommendation to visit Dieweg cemetery on my recent trip to Belgium. The recommendation came from an appropriately ghostly sounding (and extremely helpful) USE-IT volunteer named Caspar and I was drawn in by my more than the chance to see Hergé's grave on my Tintin-inspired holiday.
The cemetery is unique in that nature has been allowed to live wild among the dead, with graves uprooted and trees dangling their branches threateningly over pathways lined with tumbling tombstones. Crypts appear to be left open for visitors to wander down, though I couldn't quite build up the courage to descend into the shadowy depths without a flashlight.
The architectural styles of the memorials were quite varied but the main thought in my mind was that it would make an awesome location for a vampire movie, or the ideal home for Buffy's Spike, or one of his Belgian cousins. A mix of Gothic arches and classical crumbling columns meant the cemetery was in turns both creepy and imposing.
As the weather got greyer I decided to shoot in black and white, to heighten the eeriness of the location. Eventually the rain stopped my fun but I left feeling satisfactorily spooked. Developing the images I converted all the ones worth keeping to black and white as it seemed to better communicate the atmosphere I experienced during my time there.
For anyone who's in the area and is in the mood for some spooky kicks the cemetery is easy to find. Just take the number 92 tram heading to Fort Jaco, get off at Dieweg and the cemetery is around the corner from the petrol station. Locked at night (which I found out to my disappointment) it's open from 8.30 – 16.00 hours.
Mark is a freelancer who specialises in creative copywriting. He's experienced at putting his copywriting skills to work on a variety of subjects and can easily turn his hand to different styles. In addition to being a copywriter and a hard-working wordsmith Mark had also forged other forms of content for the web and print including photography, video and illustrations.
Based in Devon Mark lives within questing distance of the UK's Middle Earth aka Dartmoor. He likes his detectives hard-boiled, his eggs runny, and his time travel non-paradoxical.
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